The diagnostics on Tiger Woods’s performance at Frys.com were mixed, but more positive than negative. There are at least six reasons to be hopeful.
Reason No. 1
The good news for Woods fans is that he made another cut, which unfortunately, is progress. It was just the sixth tournament in 2011 where he played four rounds, and two of those had no cut. However, it’s only his third PGA Tour event since coming back after his injury at The Masters was aggravated at The Players.
Reason No. 2
His start at Frys.com was questionable with a 73, but he followed that up with three rounds of 68. He has not had three straight rounds in the 60s on the PGA Tour since the 2010 Deutsche Bank Championship. That was 11 months ago.
Reason No. 3
He’s starting to get those runs of birdies. In Woods’s fourth round, he had four in the first six holes. Unfortunately he didn’t have another one until his final hole, which was the ninth.
“I got better every day, and unfortunately, a couple times where I kind of didn't get the momentum going when I had a couple of chances to make putts or I hit a bad shot, like, for instance, today, I was rolling there. I was 4-under,” he explained after the final round. Then he said he hit a bad shot with the wrong club. “I could have just really got it rolling, and I had a couple opportunities like that, both yesterday and again today.”
Reason No. 4
Woods’s iron shots were often on the money even when his drives were on another planet. Really, isn't that the Old Tiger Woods everyone knows and loves? The guy who hits it off the planet from the tee and then somehow makes a miraculous recovery to two feet for birdie?
Reason No. 5
Woods has finally learned to swing within his body limitations. Since Tiger Woods emerged as a professional golfer, there has been one characteristic of his swing. He goes all out. You could swear he was trying to screw himself into the ground he swung so hard.
He has gone all out so many times that the pressure of the torque on his leg wrecked his knee. Now, it seems for the first time that he’s making an effort to swing within himself, more like Luke Donald or Lee Westwood and less like the Old Tiger Woods.
For the long term, if Woods has learned nothing else in the last 18 months, learning to have a controlled instead of a violent swing may be the key to being able to surpass Jack Nicklaus’s major championship record.
Reason No. 6
Endorsements are coming back. Woods inked a deal with Rolex. It’s a new beginning for Woods from a, non-Nike, commercial standpoint. You can bet that Rolex probably got a better deal now than they would have after, for instance, the US Open in 2008. Reading between the lines, will there soon be some kind of a deal with Frys?
The stats on Tiger Woods for the week:
His fairways hit for the week were 50 percent, 43 percent, 43 percent and 57 percent. He was eight in putting. He was 11th in putts per green in regulation.
Woods managed his irons poorly on Thursday, hitting only half of greens in regulation. After that he was 78 percent every day.
While Woods iron game is progressing, his putting is still not where he wants it to be and not where we remember it.
“I've struggled all week with the reads and especially the speed,” he explained. “I made the adjustment of putting more lead on the putter and still struggled.”
In other Woods news, he was semi-oblivious to a fan who tossed a hot dog toward the green. The fan was taken off the course by security.
“Some guy just came running on the green, and he had a hot dog, and evidently—I don't know how he tried to throw it, but I was kind of focusing on my putt when he started yelling,” Woods explained. “He was pretty far away from me, and you know, when he started making the commotion and the gallery started to kind of get into it, I could hear the security behind me, I was still bent over my putt.”
It happened on the seventh green. According to those who were there, the bun barely got to the putting surface, but the dog landed on the green.
Woods has some exhibitions in Asia and Australia leading up to the Australian Open on Nov. 10-13. The Presidents Cup is a week later at Royal Melbourne GC in Australia. After that, he will play in his own tournament, Chevron World Challenge at Sherwood CC in Thousand Oaks, CA, to wrap up his season.
Kathy Bissell is a Golf Writer for Bleacher Report. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained first-hand or from official interview materials from the USGA, PGA Tour or PGA of America.